Delicious, by Valli Little

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

If you like your cook book to show the finished product you might appreciate this book. It is beautifully presented with a colour picture on the opposite page to each recipe.

Personally I found many of the breakfast recipes not to my taste but others may well have other ideas.

It has an interesting collection of starters and salads. Anyone who likes couscous will like the Tomato, Couscous and Salami Salad. Vietnamese Chicken Salad is another good one.,p> Spanish Soup which can be served chilled or hot would be a useful addition to any cook’s repertoire, as would Thai-Style Tomato soup.

Where ingredients in some recipes are less familiar, Valli Little directs the reader to the right place to find them.

According to Valli, when she had a gourmet food shop one dish (DPS- Daily Pasta Special) was so popular customers wouldn’t let her ever take it off the menu. The great advantage for the busy person is that it doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.

On the whole this book is not one for those on a tight budget, as some ingredients are expensive. That is counterbalanced by others like Vegetarian Chilli in Avocado and White Bean and Coconut Curry which are tasty, inexpensive and dead easy. What more could the busy cook want?

I immediately thought of someone I know, when I came across the Kumara Galettes as she is a sucker for anything using pumpkin or kumara. And who could resist Roast Chicken with Pan-Roasted Romesco (a Spanish sauce) or Moroccan Chicken with Olives? Moroccan Cottage Pie is a new twist on an old favourite.

Of course there are also simple desserts, cakes, and low fat recipes. Most people should find several particular favourites the will use in this book. Having said that, it’s not one I’d buy myself as I wasn’t that enamoured of some of the recipes or found others used ingredients too expensive for our budget. But I’m prepared to concede others may end up with a different idea.

Delicious: Quick, Smart Cook

Delicious: Quick, Smart Cook, by Valli Little
***ABC books RRP $39.99

This book can be purchased online from Aussiereviews. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

There Was an Old Sailor, by Claire Saxby & Cassandra Allen

There was an old sailor
who swallowed a krill
I don’t know why
he swallowed the krill
It’ll make him ill

So begins this delightful rhyming picture offering, a nautical twist on the old rhyme There was an Old Woman, which sees the sailor eat his way through a host of ocean dwelling critters, from the tiny krill, to a fish, a ray, and even a whale.

Young readers will love the silliness of the tale, and be able to join in the repetitive rhyme. They’ll also be surprised by the ending, which adults may also approve of, because unlike the traditional rhyme, in this one the eater does not end up dead.

The illustrations, in richly muted ocean tones, are beautiful, with lots of comical touches. The sailor’s expressions are especially humorous and endearing. Back of book fishy facts provide a gently educational touch.

This is a gorgeous hard cover offering which will sit well in libraries and classroom collections, but be just as loved and treasured at home.

There Was an Old Sailor

There Was an Old Sailor, by Claire Saxby and Cassandra Allen
Walker Books, 2010

This book can be purchased online from (the appropriately named bookstore) Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Cattleman's Daughter, by Rachael Treasure

When Emily Flanaghan hit the tree and her heart slammed out of rhythm, she didn’t hear the rush of hooves as the other bush-race riders belted past her. Not did she hear her silver-grey mar, Snowgum, roar in agony, screaming out a hideous guttural sound…Instead, she felt herself drifting up through the filter of gumleaves, her panic subsiding.

Since growing up in the high country, a cattleman’s daughter, Emily has lost her way in life. She is trapped in a loveless, volatile marriage and misses her high-country life. But even if she could return, the cattleman’s way of life is under threat from government legislation to stop the cattle being grazed in the mountains. When Emily has a terrible accident on her horse, Snowgum, her life starts to change. She realises she must heal her life – and her beloved mountains. Clawing her way back to health, she leaves her husband and returns to her family.

Luke Bradshaw is also at a crossroads in his life. Newly graduated from university, and precluded from returning to his family farm because his father has sold it off for tree plantations, he jumps at the chance of a job as park ranger, because it will take him back to the country. But his job will see him in conflict with the cattlemen, people he has a lot in common with.

When Luke and Emily meet, both feel an instant connection. But as Luke begins his new job and Emily fights alongside her fellow cattlemen, it seems any chance of a relationship is doomed.

The Cattleman’s Daughter is a love story, but much more as well. A woman’s journey to healing and discovery, as well as a community’s fight both to stay viable merge with an examination of the impact of alpine grazing bans, and of the difficulties of actively managing and preventing fires in forest areas. An absorbing story which also gives the reader much to think about.

The Cattleman's Daughter

The Cattleman’s Daughter, by Rachael Treasure
Penguin, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Tower, by Michael Duffy

It took the two uniformed officers a while to get out of the car. When they did, one of them was sick in the gutter. His partner took a few steps backwards, her eyes fixed on the dead woman on the roof. She had obviously fallen from a very long way up.

When a young woman falls from high in the construction site of what will be the world’s tallest skyscraper, detective Nicholas Troy becomes part of the investigating team. To Troy, homicide investigations are the highest form of police work. But as he delves into the underworld of the Sydney business community, he sees the dark side of police work, of business and of life itself. Sometimes, he soon realises, decisions are not easy, and motives not clear. For the first time in his career, Troy must make decisions which may threaten that very career in order to keep himself and his family safe.

The Tower is a gripping debut novel from author Michael Duffy, who has previously written on crime and other matters for the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as writing biographies, playing in bands and presenting on radio. Duffy draws on his knowledge of Sydney and its darker side to bring the novel to life. The action and mystery are combined with the pleasing character development of Troy and of other characters in a satisfying blend.

The Tower

The Tower, by Michael Duffy
Allen & Unwin, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Nature of Ice, by Robyn Mundy

The Whalers croon while Chad provides the bass. The frozen sea. The frozen sea. When we said goodbye – he catches a sudden movement over the top of the blade and jams on the floor brake. He yanks the steering control to avoid the figure crouching directly in his path. The right track locks and the D8 slides like a chord on The Whalers’ guitar…The woman before him grabs at her equipment, tumbling over herself in an attempt to leap clear. The Whalers strum. Chad yells. The woman skates on one knee, legs tangled with those of her tripod. How the twenty-tonner doesn’t collect her he’ll never know, but the D8 completes on lithe and graceful loop before easing to a stop.

Freya is a photographer with a passion for the photographic work of Frank Hurley, the official photographer on Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic expedition of 1911-1914. Now Freya is visiting Antarctica herself, to discover Antarctica for herself and photograph it’s beauty, it’s danger, and the life of the people who work there. In Antarctica, Freya hopes to capture images for an exhibition – but, at the same time, she sees an opportunity to escape a stifling marriage for a few months.

Chad McGonigal is also at Davis Station, but unlike Freya this is far from his first time. He is regular in Antarctica, having been coming South to work for over 20 years. Largely a loner, Chad loves the isolation and the beauty of the place, but little expects to also fall for the photographer he is asked to escort around Antarctica.

Interwoven through Freya’s story is a fictionalised recreation of Douglas Mawson’s expedition, with its harshness and tragedy. Mawson is portrayed as a rounded character – not just the leader of a famous expedition, but also as lover, as driven dreamer and as flawed as any human. The story is strengthened with the inclusion of letters between Mawson and his fiancé, and draws on the diaries and journals of members of the expedition.

This is a richly layered story – or, rather, set of stories, combining as it does the stories of Freya and of Mawson, along with those of Chad, and of Mawson’s fellow expeditioners. The beauty of Antarctica is present in both stories, as is its harshness, and the mixture of joy and hardship of life in a place where humans are not meant to be.

A passionate, moving book.

The Nature of Ice

The Nature of Ice, by Robyn Mundy
Allen & Unwin, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Captain Crabclaw's Crew, by Frances Watts and David Legge Reviewed by Sally Murphy

‘Shivering shellfish,’ Captain Crablcalw said proudly, as he admired his brand-new pirate ship, the Speedy Squid.
‘Now all I need is a crew and I can sail the seven seas in search of some treasure to fill these empty chests.’

Captain Crabclaw can’t wait to set sail in his new ship, but when he advertises for a fearsome crew, he gets a crew that might be fearsome, but is also unusual, as first a duck, then an elephant, giraffe, cow and chicken, all come looking for work. When they set off on their adventure, they are laughed at – ‘that’s not a crew – that’s a zoo!’. Captain Crabclaw is upset, but his crew come up with a great idea – the first ever pirate zoo. When every visitor pays a gold coin, the Captain is convinced.

Captain Crabclaw’s Crew is a bright picture book with a whimsical story line and gorgeous digital art, sure to appeal to youngsters, and to adult readers.

From the pairing of author Frances Watts and illustrator David Legge, who also worked together on Kisses for Daddy and Parsley Rabbit’s Book About Books, this third collaboration is delightful.

Captain Crabclaw's Crew

Captain Crabclaw’s Crew, by Frances Watts and David Legge
ABC Books, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.